RIVERSIDE COUNTY, Calif. (KTLA) -- The Perris couple who admitted to the torture and abuse of the majority of their 13 children who were held captive in a “house of horrors” have been sentenced to 25 years to life in prison on Friday.
The sentences for David Turpin, 57, and Louise Turpin, 50, were part of a deal that preceded their guilty pleas to felony charges back in February, according to the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.
The sentence effectively means the two will likely spend the rest of their lives behind bars, unless they’re granted parole when they become eligible in 25 years, according to Riverside County DA Mike Hestrin.
That would have been the case regardless of whether the pair were tried and convicted on all counts prosecutors initially charged them with, which totaled over 40, Hestrin said. The defendants would be eligible for elderly parole in 25 years because of their ages, as stipulated by state law.
Hestrin noted the sentence was also the maximum punishment the defendants could have received.
The couple pleaded guilty to counts including torture, false imprisonment, cruelty to an adult dependent and willful child cruelty. In exchange, they agreed to the maximum possible punishment.
The charge stemmed from a case of horrific abuse that was only discovered when the couple’s 17-year-old daughter made a daring escape from the family’s home in the 100 block of Muir Woods Road in January 2018, using a deactivated cellphone to dial 911 for help, authorities said.
In the chilling call, a portion of which was played in court last year, the 17-year-old told the dispatcher that she and her siblings were being abused by their parents, and that some of her siblings were chained up.
“My parents are abusive. They abuse and my two little sisters right now are chained up,” she said in the call, according to a recording that was obtained by ABC News and released Thursday. She said one of her brothers was also tied up.
When sheriff’s deputies arrived at the single-story house, they found some of her 12 siblings — whose ages ranged from 2 to 29 years at the time — shackled to beds. The children appeared emaciated and filthy; their surroundings were described as “dark and foul-smelling.”
The teen relayed the deplorable conditions she and her siblings were being held in, noting it was difficult to breathe amid the squalor.
“I can’t breathe because of how dirty the house is,” the girl said. “We don’t take baths. I don’t know if we need to go to the doctor.”
She struggled to recall her own address, explaining that she rarely got out of the house. The daughter later told authorities she had been hit, choked and sexually abused by her father.
The children reported being beaten and starved, subsisting on meager jalapeno baloney sandwiches while the parents feasted on things like Jersey Mike’s, pizza and fries, a deputy testified.
Nearly all of the children were found to be severely malnourished; some of the older ones were so emaciated, first responders didn’t realize initially that they were adults, according to authorities.
Only the youngest child, who 2 at the time, did not appear starved and mistreated.
The plea agreement reached in the case ensured that each parent admitted to at least one count per child, prosecutors said in February.
It also spared the victims the pain of having to testify at a trial, ensuring they didn’t relive the horror all over again. Jack Osborn, an attorney representing the adult Turpin children, told NBC’s “Today” before the parents pleaded guilty that none of the victims were looking forward to that prospect.